Great Social Theorists

by Frank W. Elwell Rogers State University In an attempt to promote greater understanding of classical macro

social theory, particularly its implications for social criticism and prediction, I have created an Internet Web Site on eight classical macro social theorists. For four of these theorists, I have written web essays that attempt to explain their theories, criticisms, and predictions to a general audience. These essays are available in html at the sites indexed, or in a form suitable for printing from The Classical Tradition link below. For the others, I have included bibliographies, PowerPoint lectures, links to primary sources and other worthwhile Internet materials. I will try to keep these pages current as I continue my studies in each.

Classical Social Theorists: T. Robert Malthus (1766-1834) Auguste Comte (1798-1857) Karl Marx (1818-1883) Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) Emile Durkheim (18581917) Max Weber (18641920) W. E. B. Dubois (1868-1963)

Internet Books on Classical Social Modern Social Theorists: Theorists The Classical Tradition: Malthus, Marx, Weber & Durkheim Masters of Sociological Thought

II I have compiled essays on four 19th century social theorists into a book entitled The Classical Tradition to serve as an introduction to the social theory of Malthus, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. I have long been of the opinion that the classics have much to offer, but social scientists tend to

spend far too much time in social theory classes focused on teaching theory as history and not enough on contemporary developments. I have also felt strongly that, in order to attract American students, sociologists are getting far too social psychological. Accordingly, you will find this book relatively short and focused on the macro-level theory of the classics, with particular attention to ideas that have proven relevant in understanding contemporary sociocultural systems. This book should give undergraduate students the necessary grounding in classical theory to give them opportunity to read and discuss the work of contemporary practitioners; social theory courses should not be history courses, the whole point is to understand what is going on out there. The classical theorists covered in this short volume are considered central in their disciplines. Malthus is considered one of the founders of economics and demography. "Malthus' Social Theory" makes the case that his more lasting contribution has been to ecological/evolutionary theory in both biology and in the social sciences. Emile Durkheim is often referred to as the founder of modern sociology, helping to establish the discipline and many of its methods. Max Weber's writings on bureaucracy and rationalization are still considered essential in understanding modern society. And of course Marx has perhaps had the most profound influence of any social scientist in history. Not only did he inspire several generations of revolutionaries, he has also exerted a more subtle (and lasting) influence on all social scientists who followed. As sociologists, the classical theorists were reacting to the initial stages of the industrial and democratic revolutions. Writing in essentially agrarian societies, Malthus, Marx, Durkheim, and Weber picked up on many of the main trends of modernizing society. In their writings they used their sociology to critique the society of their day as well as to forecast many of our modern structures and problems. To download this book (free!) click on the following link: The Classical Tradition: Malthus, Marx, Weber & Durkheim (Requires Adobe Reader). This Internet book is intended to serve as a companion piece to Macrosociology: Four Modern Theorists which covers the social theories of C. Wright Mills, Marvin Harris, Immanuel Wallerstein and Gerhard Lenski that will be published by Paradigm Publishers in the spring of 2006. Undergraduate texts give ample discussion of the canonical works of Marx, Weber and Durkheim but little when it comes to the theories of contemporary practitioners. This book seeks to remedy that with a focus on the work of four modern theorists who have taken on the larger themes of classical social theory. C. Wright Mills, Marvin Harris, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Gerhard Lenski have

examined such phenomena and processes as the rise and impact of capitalism, the centralization and enlargement of authority, inequality, and the intensification of production and population. Borrowing what is useful from the classics as well as relying on contemporary practitioners and empirical evidence, each theorist adds his own insights and interpretations in constructing a comprehensive perspective of sociocultural stability and change. This book fully summarizes and documents each perspective using language and examples that resonate with the general reader. A short biography on each theorist is also provided. III The Industrial Revolution continues. Recently, we have entered a "hyper-industrial" phase in which massive industrial and population changes begun in the 17th century are disrupting the remaining vestiges of traditional institutions as well as the norms and values of western societies. Drawing on the work of classical and neo-classical theorists, Industrializing America: Understanding Contemporary Society through Classical Sociological Analysis is an attempt to integrate and synthesize these insight into a comprehensive world view. ©2002 & ©2005 Frank Elwell, Send comments to felwell at rsu.edu Dr. Elwell's Professional Page Verstehen (German): to understand. 1. To perceive and comprehend the nature and significance of, to know. 2. To know thoroughly by close contact with or by long experience of the phenomenon. 3. To grasp or comprehend the meaning intended or expressed by another. 4. To know and be empathetic toward. Weber used the term to refer to the social scientist's attempt to understand both the Verstehen (German): to understand. 1. To perceive and comprehend the nature and significance of, to know. 2. To know thoroughly by close contact with or by long experience of the phenomenon. 3. To grasp or comprehend the meaning intended or expressed by another. 4. To know and be empathetic toward. Weber used the term to refer to the social scientist's attempt to understand both the intention and the context of human action. intention and the context of human action.